US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Human urine is a valuable resource for the construction of lunar bases, concluded researchers who completed an unusual experiment. The urea contained in it works as a plasticizer, that is, it improves the plasticity of the material for a 3D printer.
Details are described in a scientific article published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
It is clear that in the construction of any objects on the moon it is advisable to use as few imported materials and as much local materials as possible. The basis of building blocks can be regolith . Liquid water can be obtained from moon ice.
But can humidified regolith become material for building blocks made on a 3D printer ? Scientists from Norway, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy have verified this using lunar rock simulations. As a result, the experimenters came to the conclusion that this mixture is not plastic enough. A plasticizer should be added to it.
Where can I get it on the moon? If not only robots, but also people will be involved in the construction, the answer is obvious. After all, since ancient times, mankind has used natural emissions in construction work. In some villages of the Russian hinterland, there is still a tradition to mix excrement in clay to cover the walls.
Researchers, however, did not rely on folk customs, but on modern chemistry. Urea – the second component of urine after water – breaks hydrogen bonds, which means it reduces the viscosity of water-based mixtures.
Scientists added urea to the mixture (since it has long been synthesized on an industrial scale) and repeated the experiment. Now, a kind of “concrete” had enough plasticity for a 3D printer to create something like thick pasta from it. Flexible in the initial state, after hardening, they retained a stable shape.
The compressive strength was even higher than that of samples into which standard superplasticizers (!) Were added.
Researchers subjected the samples to 80 cycles of freezing and thawing, simulating severe temperature extremes on the moon. But after that, the strength of the building blocks only increased.
We add that, perhaps, the astronauts do not even need to extract urea from the urine. As a component of the building mixture, a whole product of human life may well fit. After all, urine also consists mainly of water and urea. True, researchers have yet to test this approach.
We also note that most of the construction of the lunar base would have been better done exclusively by the forces of robots, that is, before a person arrived in Selena. The colonist’s protection from cosmic radiation should immediately be the thick walls of the shelter, and not the thin hull of the ship. Therefore, at the first stage of work, you probably have to do without such an exotic building material.
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